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Trenton's Broad Street Bank Project's Smart Growth & Community Catalytic Features: Hurdles, Challenges, and Opportunities
What is a Smart Growth Project, part 1
What is a Smart Growth Project, part 2
At one time the City’s most prestigious address, located at the corner of Montgomery Street and East State Street, was responsible for many of Trenton’s firsts including most notably, the city’s first skyscraper. Designed by William A. Poland and built over two decades to quench the demand for office space in the capitol city, this structure stands today as the as only example of early twentieth century New York School skyscraper architecture as well as the only example in the downtown of French Renaissance architecture. Located in the center of the capitol city’s downtown district, two blocks to the east of the National Register listed New Jersey State House and State House Historic District, the National Register listed War Memorial & Edison State College’s Kelsey Building and two blocks south of the listed Battle Monument, the Broad Street Bank Building is yet another testimony to the city’s rich architectural history and craftsmanship and its new use, today, is as remarkable as its historical place in New Jersey’s Capital Region.
The Broad Street Bank Building clearly used as it precedents the works of Adler and Sullivan in the Guaranty Building of 1894-95 and the Wainwright Building of 1890-91. The Home Life Insurance Company Building by William Jenny is another prototype clearly referenced. As an early skyscraper, the Broad Street Bank Building, similar to these prominent works, hides its steel skeleton behind a decorative masonry veneer. Carefully used patterned openings serve to illustrate a distinctly columnar, modern skyscraper structure.
The Building was built in three phases. The eight-story corner skyscraper was built first in 1900 and was succeeded in 1913 by the 12-story addition fronting East State Street. The final rear eight-story Montgomery Street side addition was constructed in 1923. The original 1900 structure was the city’s first building to be built over four stories and the first city structure built using steel frame construction. In 1913, Poland designed the 12-story addition to the East State Street frontage to expand the banking floor and add additional retail and office space. The final eight-story South Montgomery Street addition built in 1923 completed this important city corner. The entire structure uses the many of the same details of the original building in its additions so that it appears as one cohesive design, built by the one hand.
Aside from noting the significance of the architect that designed the building, the Broad Street Bank was important in the local history of the city. The original eight-story corner building is responsible for many of Trenton’s firsts including the:
1. 1st Trenton skyscraper
Prior to the original building's construction, the downtown area did not raise more than four stories and no structure was built utilizing steel frame construction. At the grand opening, trips up the city’s first elevators allowed an aerial perspective of the growing industrial city that had never before been seen and Trentonians marveled at the center entry revolving door. It was since removed to make way for the day’s storefronts, the revolving door stood as testimony to the ingenuity of modern buildings. BSSBB is still creating FIRST’S.
In a city that was the home to Peter Cooper’s milling innovations which produced the world’s first 7 inch I beams and the home to the Roebling legacy of steel bridges and cable technology, Trentonians were still amazed to see the bank’s skeleton rise high above every other. Trenton possessed a wealth of industry; its world renowned pottery including terra cotta, ceramic tiles and bricks along with its iron and steel products which contributed to the wire cable and bridge building synonymous with the Roebling name, made Trenton New Jersey’s hub of industrial activity and creativity. Trenton was long known as "The City of Iron and Clay." The Broad Street Bank Building is a testimony to this legacy. Its steel structure covered by terra cotta and brickwork is an example of the synthesis of these two important Trenton industries.
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